National Eating Disorders Association

I am enough. These three words appear in memes and on social media. We fling them around in the recovery community and silk screen them onto shirts. While in treatment, therapists repeated them and encouraged me to apply them to myself. With a flip of a pronoun, they altered the phrase and turned it into a mirror directed squarely at me. “You are enough,” they said. “You are enough.”

This morning, I checked my phone to find a flurry of excited Facebook posts about TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year, the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault. The magazine featured a group of women and men crucial to the movement, whom it dubbed “The Silence Breakers.” 

This past Saturday, the women of SNL united for “Welcome to Hell,” a catchy, candy-colored music video that serves to remind everyone that sexual harassment and abusive behavior toward women has been going on for a very, very, very, long time.

The image of recovery, particularly online, has such a pristine filter on it. Take a look at the recovery tag on Instagram or Tumblr and you will see some very positive things, but it can also be intimidating and even discouraging. Some may see the colorful fruit display and green smoothie close ups as what recovery truly is. It is not. Not only is there a sanitized version of recovery, but it is also very whitewashed. 

Approximately 30 million people will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives – 10 million of those people are men. Despite the statistics, men with eating disorders are often mocked, belittled, or ignored in a culture that views eating disorders as a disease that affects only wealthy white women. 

More often than not these days, my eating disorder feels like a distant memory. I have to think really hard to put myself back in my own shoes. It was only five years ago that my entire life revolved around bingeing and purging and starving and drinking (and then bingeing and purging and starving and drinking), and yet that life feels so foreign to me now. Which is an incredible privilege. And a huge victory. I struggled for nearly a decade with anorexia and bulimia. It infected every corner of my life by the time I crashed and burned my way into treatment.

Before I sat down to write this blog for NEDA (a dream come true), I wrote down a grocery list with all my favorites foods. This is a normal part of life for some, but it was just a couple years ago when I would have severe panic attacks when my mother came home with groceries. The irony of it all is that I started working in a grocery store right out of treatment. I would bring in the shopping carts and find all of the left behind grocery lists. I saved all of the lists as a reminder to me of how badly I wanted a healthy relationship with food.

Life is not meant to be lived alone. We are here to empower one another and to be there for one another through the different positive or negative journeys we face. I have begun to realize that more and more. Indeed, it is the people who are around us—particularly during our struggles—that push us forward and allow us to conquer the battles we face. 

HGTV hummed in the background and a stack of gossip magazines were lazily stacked on the table next to me. My hands rested on my lap, tightly woven together. Thumbs anxiously pressed against each other, I hummed to myself. A combination of Beyoncé and Sylvan Esso circulated through my head — my pump up music driving to the office. I was nervous.

Surviving the holidays when you have an eating disorder is not always easy. If you are like many of my clients, you are so not looking forward to the holiday parties, events, dinners, and plans.

For most, this is overwhelming because you know there will be food involved and fear is what causes you anxiety. You are worried that people will judge what you are eating, make comments about your body, or someone will say something to upset you.